What got you started writing “Homecoming”? If there’s any one event that got you going on writing in general, what was it?
Ironically enough, a mistake. I was approached for an anthology of football stories—sadly, it didn’t find a publisher, which is how I was able to offer this story to Lightspeed—because the organizing editor had heard that I was a football fan. I’m not! One of my cousins plays in the NFL, and my friend Cat Valente dedicated a football story to me, but I, personally, am not a football girl. On the other hand, I like a challenge. So this was super-fun to research and write.
I started writing when USA started airing Ray Bradbury Presents. Every episode began with him typing on his typewriter, and I realized, to my delight and dismay, that people wrote books. Books didn’t just happen, people wrote them. I wanted to be one of those people. I started writing immediately. I was like, five.
Generally speaking, the ideas that travel together with “beginning” are “morning,” “the spring,” and so on. You open this story in October. Can you tell us more about this narrative choice? Why begin in October, at night?
I am an autumn girl, a Halloween girl, a bonfires and cornfields pumpkin patch trick-or-treat girl. Given the chance, I’ll open everything in October. More than that, I adore harvest stories. I think the harvest is one of the most powerful liminal ideas of the American psyche, and since I wanted this to be a very Americana story, I wanted that power.
I wasn’t expecting Valkyries. What role do you see the cheerleaders/Valkyries as playing in the story, as well as in the greater narrative?
They’re the choosers of the slain: It’s on them to recruit the players before the game begins, to get them to the field and then let them have one last glorious battle that will determine their afterlives. I see them as psychopomps. Cheerleaders are always a little mystical, aren’t they? They’re caught between. They’re serious athletes who perform with insufficient safety gear because they’re “just girls,” and they break bones and necks and bodies, all in the name of one glorious moment of flight. They’re supposed to be pretty; they’re inevitably bad-ass. Cheerleaders are superheroes in training. So I wanted that iconography, too. Plus they’re just fun.
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